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DOCUMENT RESUMEED 424 183AUTHORTITLEPUB DATENOTEPUB TYPEEDRS PRICEDESCRIPTORSIDENTIFIERSSO 029 529Cohen, CarolynWhat Service Teaches about Citizenship and Work: The Case ofAmeriCorps.1996-12-1150p.Descriptive (141)ReportsMF01/PCO2 Plus Postage.Citizenship; *Citizenship Education; Civics; *CommunityServices; Public Service; School Community Relationship;*Service Learning; Volunteer Training*AmeriCorps; WashingtonABSTRACTThis paper reports on an exploratory investigation into someof the possible benefits of service participation. Using the national serviceprogram AmeriCorps as a case in point, the paper examines how the serviceexperience might affect participants' citizenship development, workplaceskills and career.plans. Results are drawn from four focus groups, conductedin 1996, with a total of 24 AmeriCorps members, representing 17 programs inWashington state. Participants ranged in age from 18 to over 60, and all hadcompleted one to two yeara of service. Findings suggest that new ways toassess AmeriCorps' impact should be considered, as the current strategy whichconcentrates primarily on measuring effects on the recipient community mayunderestimate program's value. Though not a comprehensive review of members'exiDeriences notions, the study offers a provocative picture of possibilities,which suggests that more can beand is beingaccomplished by theprogram than is currently thought. **********************************Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be madefrom the original ***************************************

00WHAT SERVICE TEACHES ABOUTCITIZENSHIP AND WORK:THE CASE OF AMERICORPSU.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONOffice of Educational Research and ImprovementPERMISSION TO REPRODUCE ANDDISSEMINATE THIS MATERIAL HASBEEN GRANTED BYEDUCATIONAL RESOURCES INFORMATIONCENTER (ERIC)9/This document has been reproduced asreceived from the person or organizationoriginating it.0 Minor changes have been made toimprove reproduction quality.CafolynlohenTO THE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCESINFORMATION CENTER (ERIC)1ByPoints of view or opinions stated in thisdocument do not necessarily representofficial OERI position or policy.CAROLYN COHENDecember 11, 1996CDPlease Do Not Cite or Reproduce Without Permission of AuthorCopyright 1997

WHAT SERVICE TEACHES ABOUTCITIZENSHIP AND WORK:THE CASE OF AMERICORPSByCAROLYN COHEN7039 38th Avenue N.E.Seattle, WA 98115(206) 523-9296Please Do Not Cite or Reproduce Without Permission of AuthorCopyright 19973

"I'm just inspired working with people that are in AmeriCorps.They're going to go out there and keep doing things!""I don't think I ever really had a job or beeninvolved in a club where I worked as a team. Sothis has given me the chance and the opportunity tolearn to work better as a team. So I can takethe experiences and the benefits that I've gainedthrough AmeriCorps and use them .down the road,wherever I go."What Service Teaches about Citizenship and Work:The Words of AmeriCorps Members"I think that people don't know that theycan access the political process a lotthere's more to do than just vote, andpeople don't even feel like voting mattersanyway, but there's so much more thatyou can do.""I feel like if I see a problem in the community I knowwhere to go. I feel like I have the confidence to take theinitiative . find a group that maybe can help out ormaybe some other people that feel the same way, andtake that initiative. Where before I would be like, yeah,there's trash in the road, well, what do you want me todo about it?""I'm more civically involved."Instead of reading an article, aboutsay gang-related incidents or a childabuse incident, we are out there doingsomething about it. And you feelmore empowered. Instead of justreading the article and getting mad,. and saying, "how can they let thathappen, its not right, its not fair."Through AmeriCorps you actually getthe chance to explore those and see ifyou can change them."I'd never attended a schoolboard meeting, a councilmeeting. I'd never reallygotten involved with groups,pretty much just went to myjob and went home. And nowtend to go to a lot morecommunity type meetings. Ialso feel more of a need tohelp youth."now feel like I'm a valuable part of my communityI'm4respected."

TABLE OF CONTENTSviiExecutive SummaryWhat Service Teaches About Citizenship And Work: The Case OfAmeriCorps2Public Policies That Promote Service4Learning About the Effects of Service Participation5Composing Focus Groups6Participant Profile7Learning from What Focus Group Participants Say89FindingsCivic Dispositions: Citizenship Knowledge, Skills, And Commitments9Civic And Workplace Skills: Enabling Civic Life And Employability15Career Findings: Opportunities for Career Exploration20Interpreting What The Focus Groups Tell Us: Policy Implications23Assessing AmeriCorps23Validating the Educational Outcomes of Service26The Public Interest, Service, and Citizenship Appendix35Methodology35Participant Characteristics38Programs Represented in this Study405

EXECUTIVE SUMMARYWHAT SERVICE TEACHES ABOUT CITIZENSHIP AND WORK:THE CASE OF AMERICORPSI was born and raised where I live, and I was never really involved with the community inany way, and my parents never were either. But. its like I've learned I have a voice , too,if I want one. I've gotten involved in a lot of things I otherwise probably wouldn't havebeen involved in if it wasn't for AmeriCorps.This reflection, expressed by a middle-aged mother living in a rural community, exemplifies thetype of personal transformation reported by AmeriCorps participants as a result of their serviceexperience. These members say that serving in AmeriCorps provided them with a new sense ofconnectedness to their home communities.This paper reports on an exploratory investigation into some of the possible benefits of serviceparticipation. Using the national service program AmeriCorps as a case in point, it examines howthe service experience might affect participants' citizenship development, workplace skills andcareer plans. Results are drawn from four focus groups, conducted in 1996, with a total of 24AmeriCorps members, representing 17 programs in Washington state. Participants ranged in agefrom 18 to over 60, and all had completed one to two years of service.Program evaluations to date have focused primarily on measuring the impact of AmeriCorps onlocal communities. This exploration sought to add new information to the discussion about thevalue of AmeriCorps by focusing attention on a range of possible participation effects. Thefindings suggest that new ways to assess AmeriCorps' impact should be considered, as the currentstrategy which concentrates primarily on measuring effects on the recipient community mayunderestimate program value. Though not a comprehensive review of members' experiencesnationwide, the study offers a provocative picture of possibilities, which suggests that more can beand is beingaccomplished by the program than is currently thought to be the case.The study investigates three questions:In what ways does AmeriCorps participation influence its members?How has participation affected members' citizenship development, workplace skills, andcareer plans?What aspects of the AmeriCorps experience produced these citizenship development,workplace skills, and career outcomes?Major FindingsParticipants perceived that the AmeriCorps experience offered them opportunities they would nothave otherwise had, in particular, to contribute to their communities, learn new skills, andparticipate in workplace activities. This sentiment was expressed by members of all ages,regardless of their work experience, education, or socio-economic background. Findings areorganized into three areas illustrating how service affected participants' citizenship developmentand employment preparation.vii

1. The experience enabled and encouraged participants to develop a set of civiccompetencies, strengthen connections to their communities, and engage in civiclife. The most consistent civic finding, expressed by participants in each focus session, was thatthrough the AmeriCorps experience, members acquired both action-oriented citizenship skills, andhands-on practice in using them, resulting in a sense of civic competence that encouraged them toenter the public arena and work for the common good. Reported "civic effects" includedadvancing:civic knowledge such as learning about the processes of a representative democracy;civic skills such as learning to consider differing perspectives and to negotiate, andcivic disposition, meaning a willingness to engage in solving problems and improving lifein one's community or country.2.Participants report developing a set of skills that enable both an effective civiclife and employability. Participants report acquiring a set of competencies which are seen bymany citizenship theorists as critical to effective, active citizenship in a multicultural democracy,and are also identified by workplace policy analysts as integral to workplace preparation. Theyprovided examples of developing the following critical skills:leadership and communicationteamworkability to work with people from diverse backgroundsresiliency and perseverance3. Participants report that the experience allowed them opportunities they wouldnot have otherwise had in exploring career options. Although providing members withcareer exploration opportunities has never explicitly been part of AmeriCorps' program intent, it isclearly an incidental member benefit. Focus group participants, regardless of their educationalbackground or work history, reported that their service experience provided them with significantcareer-related outcomes. These outcomes include:Opportunities to explore new careers or clarify existing career goals, andOn-the-job training that will be useful in future work experiences.ImplicationsThe findings clearly demonstrate the potential effect of AmeriCorps service on participants'personal, civic, and work lives. Beyond the personal effects, these findings have significantimplications for administration of the AmeriCorps program in particular, and more generally forpublic policies relating to improving education and promoting citizenship development.1.Expand the Parameters of AmeriCorps AssessmentCurrent evaluation strategies treat "member development," "community service," and "communitystrengthening" as independent outcomes. However, findings demonstrate that outcomes in theseareas may really be quite intertwined. Specifically, AmeriCorps members who developcompetencies in civic knowledge and skills, and are encouraged to engage in civic life, may wellaccomplish more in their communities after completing their service period, far beyond what ismeasured by annual program evaluations. Attention paid to developing members' knowledge andviii7

skills may result in long term community benefits. While it is difficult to conduct a cost-benefitanalysis of investment in member development, it is easy to see the potential value to a communitywhen a member says with conviction:I don't think I could ever not be involved in the community again I don't think Icould just walk away from a problem in a community and say, "it's somebodyelse's problem," without ttying to see what I could do to help. I just don't think Icould feel, you know, that I have mv own problems and my own life, and let themworry about theirs."These findings have important policy implications for assessing outcomes of any serviceprogram, including AmeriCorps. They suggest the potential for crafting strategies to maximizemember development, and for considering how to capitalize on the public investment in membersbeyond their service period.2. Validate the Educational Outcomes of ServiceThe focus groups revealed that for these members, the AmeriCorps experience developed newskills, knowledge, and attitudes, which are widely recognized as important educational goals inboth civics and workplace preparation. Every one of the reported citizenship and employabilityeffects have been identified as important outcomes in either recent national education standards orin current education research. The study provides examples that show how service participationenabled members to acquire or strengthen abilities identified in two benchmark-setting endeavors:The National Standards for Civics and Government, and the Secretary's Commission onAchieving Necessary Skills (SCANS).These findings point to some potentially powerful forms of learning embedded in serviceexperiences, even when, as in the case of AmeriCorps, the service experience is not explicitlyintended to be "educational." Further exploration of these competency-based outcomes of serviceshould be useful in designing and evaluating experiential education strategies, particularly inservice-learning and school-to-work preparation, as well as other education programs such ascivics and adult education.3.Continue to Explore the Role of Public Initiatives in Engaging Americans inCivic LifeAmericans clearly have a vested interest in fostering competent, engaged citizenship. When studyparticipants discussed the personal effects of serving their country, they showed evidence ofdevelopment of civic judgment, and an improved ability and inclination to address complex publicproblems. Public policies that promote service experiences may prove a significant strategy toencourage the type of civic-mindedness and competence needed to sustain democracy. Furtherefforts that explore the role of public policies in encouraging service experiences that fosterdevelopment of thoughtful, engaged citizens are called for. These policies should be directed atcitizens of all ages, not just those enrolled in school. They can provide opportunities for the typeof transformation reported by one participant who said:I feel like if I see a problem in the community I know where to go, I feel like I have theconfidence to take the initiative . find a group that maybe can help out or maybe someother people that feel the same way, and take that initiative.ix

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThis field-based study could not have taken place without the assistanceof Bill Basl, Executive Director, Washington State Commission for National andCommunity Service, who provided information, responded to numerous queriesabout how AmeriCorps functions, and was instrumental in my being able to gainaccess to AmeriCorps members. Ellen Winiarczyk, Training Director, WashingtonService Corps, went to great lengths to help me convene two of the focus groups,which provided the study with a perspective from rural and small town members.I would also like to thank all of the program directors who recruited theirmembers for my focus groups, and in some cases arranged for meeting space.I would like to thank the University of Washington faculty, ProfessorsMichael S. Knapp, and Marge Plecki, Educational Leadership and Policy Studies,and William Zumeta, Graduate School of Public Affairs, who offered sound advicein thinking through evaluation strategies. Diana Hess, Curriculum andInstruction, carefully reviewed my citizenship-related findings and helped methink about their policy implications. Professor Walter Parker, Curriculum andInstruction, directed me to many important sources that greatly furthered myunderstanding of the role of engaged citizenship in democracy.Two of the foremost authors on the use of focus groups in appliedresearch, Professor Richard Krueger, University of Minnesota, and ProfessorDavid Morgan, Portland State University, were kind enough to offer guidance.Professor Krueger reviewed and critiqued my initial focus questions. ProfessorMorgan engaged in an ongoing discussion by both telephone and email on theuses of focus groups, sent copies of relevant research, and provided direction onfocus group analysis.Dr. Changhua Wang, Nancy Henry, and Dmitri Vietze, of the NorthwestRegional Educational Laboratory, provided important information on AmeriCorpsin general, as well as on members and activities in the Pacific Northwest.9

WHAT SERVICE TEACHES ABOUT CITIZENSHIPAND WORK: THE CASE OF AMERICORPSThe possibilities and potential for crafting policies that engage American citizens in publiclife have captured the attention of policymakers, including educators. Efforts to engage citizens inthe active practice of citizenship are sometimes referred to as the "civic renewal movement." Thissuch as a commitment to promote the generalmovement draws on intrinsic American valueswelfare, expressed in the Preamble to the Constitution, and in political documents and rhetoricthroughout our history.In the last several years, public leaders have enacted policies that strive to foster engagedcitizenship by either encouraging or mandating the civic virtue of community service. Much, butnot all, of this effort has taken place in educational institutions through strategies such ascommunity service requirements. For example, service-learning, an integration of academic study,community service, and guided reflection, has become popular at the K-12 level, and is makinginroads in post-secondary education as well.At both the program and the policy levels, connections are sometimes made betweeneducating for citizenship and for workplace preparation. This connection is evident in recent federalpolicy initiatives that target both youth and adult education. "Goals 2000, The Educate AmericaAct of 1994," which codified and added to the original National Education Goals established byPresident Bush and the National Governors Association in 1990, includes two goals that connectthe civic and workplace preparation missions of schools. These are:"Student Achievement and Citizenship: By the year 2000, all students prepared forresponsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our Nation's moderneconomy, (Goal 3)" and,"Adult Literacy and Lifelong Learning: Every adult American will .possess the knowledgeand skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilitiesof citizenship (Goal 6) (National Education Goals Panel, 1995).Not all publicly-supported service programs are linked to an academic setting, nor do theyclaim education as a primary goal. AmeriCorps, a national service program established byCongress in 1993, provides citizens aged 17 and over with the opportunity to engage in one to twoyears of service, in exchange for living expenses and a tuition voucher. AmeriCorps is not aservice-learning program. Service is not formally linked to academic study and guided reflection,10

although these activities may take place at the discretion of individual AmeriCorps sites. Unlikeschool-linked service learning, AmeriCorps' first emphasis is on "getting things done" in thecommunity, rather than on individual member development. Thus, AmeriCorps outcomes areprimarily documented through methods such as annual accomplishment reviews and cost-benefitanalyses that highlight measurable benefits to the recipient community.However, there is evidence that in addition to "getting things done" for the community, theAmeriCorps experience may have significant effects on participants, similar to those promoted inGoals 2000. That is, that they may be achieving citizenship and workplace preparation knowledgeand skills, while at the same time performing useful service to communities. While research andevaluation measures have been employed to assess participant outcomes in service-learning(Myers-Lipton, 1995; Olney, 1995; Schmiede. 1995) little attention has been paid to AmeriCorpsparticipant outcomes. This may be because while there is general agreement that citizenshipdevelopment is an integral part of public education (Parker, 1995), there is no parallel consensusthat public policies and funds should be directed toward developing citizenship skills for adults.This paper summarizes and interprets the results of an exploratory study into the possibleeffects of national service participation. It is intended to lay a foundation for three questions: 1) Inwhat ways does AmeriCorps participation influence its members? 2) How has participationaffected members' a) citizenship development, b) workplace skills, and c) career development? 3)What aspects of the AmeriCorps experience do members report produced civic, workplace skills,and career exploration outcomes? This study reports on effects as seen through the eyes ofexperienced service participants: findings are drawn from focus groups with AmeriCorpsmembers who have completed one to two years of service.This exploratory study is intended for a general audience interested in public policies andpractices that promote citizenship development and employability skills. The findings are presentedin three areas: development of civic dispositions, learning civic and workplace skills, and careerexploration. Three sets of implications are drawn.First, as AmeriCorps is used as a case in point, some implications for the debate taking place inthe public and political arenas over the value of the AmeriCorps program are addressed, and acase is made for considering new ways to assess AmeriCorps impact. This section mayprovide specific lessons to AmeriCorps stakeholders interested in improving and supportingthe program, including policymakers, community leaders, agency directors and grantrecipients.Second, the members in this study reported acquiring skills, knowledge, and attitudes that havebeen established as national standards in both citizenship and workplace preparation.311

Examples of how the effects of participation converge with these national standards areprovided. Implications are drawn that may prove of interest to those engaged in designing orevaluating adult education or experiential education, such as school-to-work or service-learningprograms.Finally, some implications are drawn for those interested in policy discussion on the role ofgovernment in using service to encourage civic engagement.PUBLIC POLICIES THAT PROMOTE SERVICE: THECASE OF AMERICORPS 1The National and Community Service Trust Act of 1993 was one of the first programsestablished by President Clinton in his first term of office. It established several initiativesdesigned to engage citizens in service experiences, including the AmeriCorps program whichofficially began enlisting members in September, 1994. The Act received bipartisan support, andto some extent, built on a prior Bush Administration initiative, the National and CommunityService Act of 1990. The 1993 Act established the Corporation for National Service, anindependent agency, which acts as an interface between the states and Congress, allocates federalfunds, and exercises oversight and accountability over AmeriCorps as well as other serviceprograms. The Corporation is governed by a bipartisan board of directors, appointed by thePresident and confirmed by the Senate. AmeriCorps funds are used to cover member costs such asliving allowances, health insurance, child care, and education awards; as well as programadministration expenses.AmeriCorps grants are available on a competitive basis to public and nonprofit agencies.National organizations with programs in multiple states, for example, Habitat for Humanity, orUnited Way, apply directly to the Corporation and receive one-third of available funds. Theremaining two-thirds are awarded through State Commissions for National and CommunityService. The Commissions are nonpartisan bodies, appointed by the governors. Theirresponsibilities are to implement and administer AmeriCorps programs, design state strategic1 Information for this section was taken from the following sources: Wofford, H. and Waldman, S. (1996); Larson,David Karl, (1995); Annual Reports, Washington Commission for National and Community Service andCorporation for National and Community Service, State Office, May 1996; Corporation for National Servicedocumentation, including information from the Corporation Website; and telephone conversations with Bill Basl,executive director, Washington State Commission for Community and National Service.

plans, solicit and select programs for funding, and to provide them with training, technicalassistance, and oversight.AmeriCorps' three stated objectives are: getting things done (community service), memberdevelopment, and community building. Members work to fill unmet needs identified by localcommunities, in one of four areas: education, human services, public safety, or the environment.On a national level, about two-thirds of the projects are directed at serving young people.Programs are allowed great flexibility in order to best meet community needs. As a result,members may have quite different experiences from each other. Some work in teams together withfellow members, while others are assigned individually to agencies. Some spend the entire term atone site while others serve at more than one. Depending on the program, members may be able totake advantage of extensive training. Programs may choose to allocate up to 20% of the fortyhour work week for member development training activities.While the opportunity to apply for AmeriCorps membership is open to citizens orpermanent residents over the age of 17, project teams are supposed to represent the diversity oftheir community in terms of gender. ethnicity, education, and socio-economic background. Full-time members work at least forty hours per week. AmeriCorps members commit to serve eitherfull or part-time for a one year period, and have the option of serving for a total of two years. Fulltime is considered to be 1700 hours per year; part time service is 900 hours. In exchange forservice, full-time members receive a living allowance of about 160 per week ( 8,000) per year.Members who complete a full-time term of service receive an education award of 4, 725 per year.Part-time members receive half of the living allowance and education award.There are currently about 25.000 AmeriCorps members at the national level serving in 400programs at about 1200 sites. This study was conducted in the state of Washington, whichcurrently has approximately 1,000 members, affiliated with 21 national direct, and 26 statecommission-funded operating sites.LEARNING ABOUT THE EFFECTS OF SERVICEPARTICIPATIONThis exploratory study relies on focus groups for three reasons. First, this study wasdesigned to discover behaviors, perceptions, values, and attitudes. Focus group characteristicsmake them ideal for such exploratory research (Morgan, 1988; Morgan & Krueger, 1993; Vaughn,Schumm, & Sinagub, 1996) Qualitative methods, such as focus groups or interviews, are513

especially useful for forming working hypotheses by uncovering responses to "how," "why," and"what kind of' questions. Unlike quantitative methods such as surveys, the focus group questionsset discussion parameters, but don't limit participants to certain preconceived responses. Thesecond advantage of the focus group method is that it effectively captures responses from thosewho do not express themselves well in writing. This was particularly important with theAmeriCorps population, some of whom either had a limited educational background, or were nonnative English speakers, and were therefore much more articulate in discussion than they couldhave been on a written questionnaire. Third, the group interaction often results in a "snowballingeffect" where one person's comments stimulate memories and ideas in the others (Hess, 1968 citedin Vaughn, etal., 1996). The facilitator is free to follow up on these new ideas as they are raisedby respondents.Focus group methodology does have some potential weaknesses. Morgan (1996) reportsthat potential focus group weaknesses relate to concerns about variation in moderator conduct andthe nature of group interaction. He notes three possible concerns: 1) as in survey research andindividual interviews, interviewer style may affect responses; 2) group dynamics might influenceresponses, and 3) participants may he uncomfortable discussing certain sensitive topics.Composing Focus GroupsFour focus groups were conducted, with a total of 24 participants representing 17Washington sites.2 Focus group researchers are advised that one to four sessions generallyprovide sufficient data for analysis on trends and respondent insights (Goldman & McDonald,1987; Krueger, 1988) All focus groups were conducted in July and August, 1996, near the end ofthe annual AmeriCorps service period. The timing of groups ensured that all participants werecompleting either their first or second year of service.Because AmeriCorps attracts members of all ages, ethnic groups, socio-economic andeducational backgrounds, an attempt was made to recruit members who were diverse from eachother. In general, groups were composed of members who did not know each other. Additionalnotes on group composition strategy can be found in the Appendix.2See Appendix for list of program sites represented. further detail on participant characteristics, and the demographicsurvey form.14'

Participant ProfileIt is impossible to characterize in any general terms the 24 members who participated in thefour focus groups. In many ways they are people whose paths would never have otherwisecrossed: a former school teacher in her mid-fifties and self-described as a lifelong volunteer, whorelated early experiences such as being a civilian plane spotter in the 1950's; a mid-thirtiesprogram manager who had formerly served in the military; a young idealist planning to become an"intermodal expressive arts therapist:" and a man who had been homeless and functionally illiteratesat together at one table. In another session, a retired businessman self-described as the "residentconservative," a mother of three who was in

DOCUMENT RESUME. ED 424 183 SO 029 529. AUTHOR Cohen, Carolyn TITLE What Service Teaches about Citizenship and Work: The

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